Instead of dumping combustible waste in landfills, why not use it to power steam engines? Raymond S. Edwards, a solid-waste consultant, has developed a method of converting such trash--cardboard, newsprint, magazines, wood chips, and certain plastics--into a fuel that he says is cheaper and cleaner than coal.
While the recycled "coal" could be burned by steam-driven ships or generators, Thomas W. Blasingame figures that it's also just the ticket for bringing back steam locomotives. Blasingame, who runs a custom-design company in Boise, Idaho, is now looking for $1.5 million to build a prototype, either a steam-powered electric model or perhaps an updated version of a locomotive that is directly driven by steam--a type of choo-choo that hasn't been built in the U.S. since 1949. Arizona & California Railroad Co., a small freight line based in Parker, Ariz., says that it would like to try a prototype locomotive as soon as one can be built.